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Lights, camera, little action: ‘Bell Bottom’, ‘Chehre’ yet to pull crowds




Two back-to-back big releases — Akshay Kumar’s ‘Bell Bottom’ and the Amitabh Bachchan star vehicle, ‘Chehre’, both well-received by critics — may have buoyed the spirits of film exhibitors, but their box-office collections have been far from encouraging.

‘Bell Bottom’, which was released on August 19, according to trade analysts, has grossed Rs 18.55 crore till date. Compare this with the Rs 64.99 crore collected in its opening weekend by ‘Good Newzz’ (with Diljit Dosanjh), Akshay’s last film before the first nationwide Covid-19 lockdown. And that was far less than the extended opening weekend earnings — Rs 97.56 crore — of the other big 2019 film, ‘Mission Mangal’.

A number of factors have contributed to this significant drop in earnings: cinema theatres are still under lockdown in Mumbai and Pune, depriving Bollywood of 25 per cent of its revenues; the requirement in a number of malls for patrons to produce double vaccination certificates before being allowed in, which is affecting attendance in theatres located in malls; and, significantly, the closure of 1,500 single screens across India because of the pandemic-induced economic stress.

On ‘Chehre’, which opened on Friday, the analysts were not very bullish about box-office figures. Karan Taurani of Elara Capital predicted that it would make a “lifetime collection” of Rs 5-6 crore because of its “niche” storyline that only a “discerning audience” would appreciate.

Taurani also pointed out that collections have been low because of “very low occupancy in morning shows and night shows not being allowed”. He also blamed the low occupancies forced by social distancing norms being in force. Also, over the last eight days, barring this past Sunday, which did see a spike in Delhi as a result of Raksha Bandhan festivities, attendance in theatres was at an all-time low across Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.

Exhibitors, however, are cautiously optimistic about their business coming back to life, even if partially, because of ‘Bell Bottom’ and ‘Chehre’.

Gautam Dutta, CEO, PVR Limited, said in a conversation with IANS: “Post the reopening of cinemas after the second wave, ‘Bell Bottom’ was the first big Bollywood movie to have hit the big screen. And it has done reasonably well within the restrictions in capacity, show limitations and weekend closures.”

He also emphasised the lockdown still in place for cinema theatres in “major markets such as Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and Kerala.”

The sentiment was share by Rajender Singh Jyala, Chief Programming Officer, INOX Leisure.

Speaking to IANS, he said: “We have always said that the industry needed a couple of mass entertainers to kick off the recovery process, and we are glad that these have arrive and are doing phenomenally well, despite the restrictions.”

“We positively hope that the momentum built by the fantastic response to ‘Bell Bottom’ in the week gone by, and the hype around ‘Chehre’, would mark the onset of our revival journey.”

For Dutta, more than the initial numbers, it is the momentum that matters. He said to IANS: “We are encouraged by the release of the long-awaited ‘Chehre’ today. Hope this will encourage producers from the Bollywood fraternity to announce their big films for theatrical release and get movie-goers back to cinemas.”


Raveena Tandon: Have always had this fascination for the dark side




 Actress Raveena Tandon, who is gearing up for the release of her series ‘Aranyak’ on Netflix, says she has always had a fascination for the dark side.

Talking about the growing popularity and demand for thrillers on the OTT platforms, Raveena in a conversation with IANS said: “I don’t know why it is so popular but I am a big fan of this genre. I think it just makes you hook and binge watch, so that is something which I have loved and I have always had this fascination for the dark side as well.”

The actress, who ruled the roost in the 1990s, says she is not a big fan of horror as a genre, but it is the nail-biting genre of suspense and thrillers, which keeps her hooked on to the television screens.

“I am not a huge fan of horror but suspense, thriller and maybe crime thrillers as well and the unraveling of it all… I am a huge fan. So I think there are many like me… I do like romance once in a while,” she added.

‘Aranyak’ spotlights the hardships and prejudices female officers face as they try to strike a balance between their work and personal lives.

Set in the dense forest, Raveena plays a local cop, who all her life waits for a “big case” and one fine day a news of a teenage tourist’s murder shakes her up and joins forces with her city-bred replacement Angad played by Parambrata Chatterjee to solve the case. As the two struggle to find the serial killing entity, a forgotten folklore is revived.

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Preity Zinta is loving ‘burp cloths, diapers and babies’





Bollywood actress Preity Zinta Goodenough is enjoying being a mother to her newborns Gia and Jai. She even shared a picture holding one of her twins.

Preity posted the picture on Instagram, where she is seen holding her baby and smiling at the camera. The face of the baby wasn’t visible as the little bundle of joy was wrapped in a baby blanket. Preity also had a burp cloth on her shoulder.

“Burp cloths, diapers & babies… I’m loving it all #ting,” Preity captioned the image.

It was last month when Preity announced that she and her husband Gene Goodenough became parents to twins.

The actress, who made the announcement on social media with a picture of herself posing with Gene, opted for surrogacy.

The actress currently resides in Los Angeles with husband Gene Goodenough, whom she tied the knot in February 29, 2016.

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Ed Sheeran ‘nearly killed’ Sir Elton John




Grammy winning-singer Ed Sheeran “almost killed” legendary English singer-songwriter Elton John while shooting their festive music video after he kicked a “big metal bell” and it came close to hitting his friend on the head.

Speaking to Apple Music’s Zane Lowe about the track, Sheeran said: “We just shot a Christmas music video. Oh, mate. I almost killed him with a bell.

“On the video, there’s footage of… I’m dressed up as sort of sexy Santa Claus and I kick a present, but the present had a big metal bell on top of it. I showed him the footage of it today, because we slowed it down and the bell flew past his head and would’ve cracked him in the head.

“Oh my God, the horror that went through my body when it was flying through the air.”

Despite the incident, the ‘Perfect’ singer is delighted with the video.

He added: “But, man, the music video is wild. We’ve parodied all the great British music videos that came at Christmas.”

Sheeran said he’d never expected to record a Christmas single at this stage of his career, but it “made sense” to team up with his friend and mentor.

He said: “It is always the type of thing that I thought I would do when I was 60. My manager said he would retire if I made a Christmas album. I’ve always wanted to work with (Elton) and this made most sense.”

The ‘Shivers’ singer earlier shared that John calls him every day and it was during a chat on Christmas Day last year that the idea for a festive single was sparked.

He said: “Elton rung me on Christmas Day to say Merry Christmas. He rung me on Christmas Day, and he said, ‘Step Into Christmas’ is number six in the charts, and I’m 74, and I’m still having f****** chart hits, this is great! I want to do another Christmas song, will you do it with me?’ “

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